TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 14 Duke jumped out to an early lead, received two solid pitching performances and put the game away with a four-run ninth to defeat No. 12 Florida State, 7-1, in the series opener Friday evening at Dick Howser Stadium.
After Duke (29-7, 11-5 ACC) scored three in the first, sophomore Adam Laskey (6-2) pitched 6.2 innings of one-run ball to preserve the Blue Devil advantage. Graduate student Ethan DeCaster tossed 2.1 scoreless innings to finish the game. The Blue Devil offense then scored four in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
“We talked in our pregame meeting about applying pressure,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “We did a good job of that. We grabbed that lead and [Laskey] went out there and put a shutdown inning on the board then really competed well after that.”
Junior Chris Proctor went 3-for-4 to lead the Blue Devils at the plate. Proctor’s first-inning RBI triple began the scoring before his two-run single in the ninth provided the knockout punch.
Jimmy Herron scored on Proctor’s opening frame triple, marking the 15th time this season Herron has crossed home in the first inning. After Zack Kone was hit by a pitch, Jack Labosky delivered a two-run base knock to give the Blue Devils an early 3-0 lead.
FSU starter Cole Sands (6-2) settled in after the first and retired 10 straight Blue Devils at one point before leaving with an apparent injury in the top of the fifth. He suffered the loss, allowing three runs on four hits over four innings.
The only run against Laskey scored in the fourth to trim Duke’s margin, 3-1. Kyle Cavanaugh’s two-out RBI single did the damage before the Seminole designated hitter was thrown out attempting to advance to end the inning.
The 3-1 score remained until the ninth when six straight Blue Devils reached to provide ample insurance runs. Freshman Joey Loperfido’s leadoff double ignited the rally before Kennie Taylor delivered a two-run double and Proctor added the bases-loaded single.
“We stayed within ourselves,” Pollard said. “We had a chance to maybe push a run or two across earlier, but then we delivered a couple of daggers. Ken Taylor’s double, that’s dagger. Chris Proctor’s base hit, that’s a dagger. I was really proud of the way our offense performed there in the ninth inning.”
Laskey earned the win in his fifth quality start of the season, yielding the one run on six hits and three walks while striking out five. DeCaster’s 2.1 scoreless innings earned him his fifth save of the season.
Herron also walked in the ninth while his first-inning base knock extended his current on base streak to a team-best 16 consecutive games.
Duke resumes the series with Florida State Saturday, April 14 on ACC Network Extra. Left-handers Mitch Stallings and Drew Parrish square off at 2 p.m., from Dick Howser Stadium.